The season is now half over after last weekend's slate of non-conference games. Now we move on to conference play, where, based on results this season so far, anything can happen.
But first, we scrapped together six of our basketball writers to gather votes on a couple different awards the MAC usually gives out. While not everything was unanimous, the voting was all pretty close. On to the awards!
|G||Julius Brown||Toledo||15.5 PPG, 4.8 APG|
|G||Shannon Evans||Buffalo||16 PPG, 5.3 APG, 4.2 RPG, 1.6 SPG|
|G/F||Connar Tava||Western Michigan||15.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.5 SPG|
|F||Justin Moss||Buffalo||16.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG|
|F||Richaun Holmes||Bowling Green||14 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.6 BPG|
These five were pretty much a consensus between all of us. All of these five appeared on at least half of our ballots, with Tava and Maurice Ndour being the closest call. You don't realize how much Tava does on the floor until you look at his stats. Yes, he's a good scorer and rebounder. But, he's tenth in the league in assists and is also the only forward in the top 17. He's also ninth in the conference in steals and is again the only forward in the top 15.
The others have been great all year, and it'll be an interesting case on who gets the MAC Player of the Year in April. Would you go with the guy who leads the conference in points and rebounds (Moss) or someone like Tava or Evans who do a little bit of everything? Obviously there's still a lot of basketball to be played, but that 's a tough call right now.
|G||Javarez Willis||Ohio||15.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.4 APG|
|G||Chris Fowler||Central Michigan||13.3 PPG, 6 APG, 3.1 RPG|
|G||Raven Lee||Eastern Michigan||14.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2 APG, 1.5 SPG|
|F||Jimmy Hall||Kent State||14.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.5 APG|
|F||Maurice Ndour||Ohio||15.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.5 BPG|
You can tell that this is a deep point guard league, as we have three in the second team alone. Why that's not technically what you want in a second-team, these guys need to be recognized for what they're doing on the court. Jimmy Hall has been a nice surprise for a Kent State team that is definitely overachieving this season. Hall is a prototypical MAC power forward and could get into that first-team range with a strong conference season.
|G||Noah Robotham||Akron||9.8 PPG, 2.8 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG|
|G||Lamonte Bearden||Buffalo||9.3 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG|
|G||Ryan Taylor||Ohio||10.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.7 APG|
|F||Sean Sellers||Ball State||12.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.7 APG|
|F||Luke Meyer||Central Michigan||7.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG|
Certainly Jeremie Tyler from Ball State has a case to be on here, as he's averaging twelve points and four rebounds per game. But, he's academically ineligible for the rest of the season, so he (likely) won't garner any Freshman accolades. Western Michigan's Drake LaMont was close too; he was just one vote short of making it. It'll be fun to watch him and Meyer go against each other when the two rivals play.
Player of the Year
Justin Moss, Buffalo
This one is pretty easy. Moss has been completely dominant this year and leads the conference in both scoring and rebounding. The junior forward from Detroit has made huge strides since last season, where he averaged just four points and three rebounds per year. The change has been pretty remarkable, and maybe you can point to the fact that he had to match-up against Javon McCrea in practice for a couple years. Plus, now that McCrea is off and graduated, Moss's minutes per game have increased from just a shade under ten to almost thirty. Plus, he did this.
Coach of the Year
Rob Murphy, Eastern Michigan
Murphy has guided his Eagles to an 11-2 record this season, with the only blemishes being road losses at Dayton and at Michigan State. His team has beaten Michigan at Crisler Arena which is no small feat even though the Wolverines are in the midst of an up-and-down year. Murphy has very quietly picked up 62 wins in three and a half years in Ypsilanti and has done wonders with the program. He hasn't made it to the MAC Championship game yet, but this could be his year to do that.
Biggest Surprise Team
After losing the likes of McCrea, Jarod Oldham and Josh Freelove, many expected the Bulls to take a step back this year. Well, they haven't, and they're storming ahead to a potential MAC title. Moss and Evans have been revelations, and Bobby Hurley has shown he should be known for more than just a college all-star and former NBA player. The Bulls led the #1 and #6 teams in the nation (Kentucky and Wisconsin) at halftime and only have a loss at St. Bonaventure. These Bulls are for real and will make a lot of noise during conference play.
This was a pretty common answer among our voting panel. The Bobcats sit at just 5-6 this year, but that may be more of a product of their non-conference schedule than their play on the court. Regardless, Ohio is currently fifth in the MAC East and are one of just three teams in the conference with losing records. They are adjusting to a new head coach and a new system, plus the loss of Nick Kellogg is proving to be hampering Ndour's play. Coming into this season the Bobcats had just five players that were on the court for meaningful minutes the season before.
Obviously Ohio has time to turn it around. It'll be interesting to see how they respond during conference play. With the MAC being so deep this year, Ohio might have some trouble finding their way this season.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments